In September I was invited to the Jazz Festival in Tbilisi. Dato Mazanashvili, pianist leader of the ‘Georgian Jazz Trio’ called me about it. We

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had met up with him at the Baku Jazz Festival of 2005. The ‘Georgian Jazz Trio’ had come to the festival with the help of the Georgian embassy in Azerbaijan. We met again at the following festival, Baku 2006. The Baku audience liked the group; their introduction of a very interesting programme ensured that they remained in the memory. I still remember the group’s success on an open stage in Fountain Square.

I also appreciated them as professional musicians. We played together in a jam session and realised we could work together.

This is why I agreed without hesitation to take part, with the trio, in the festival in Georgia. The guys welcomed me like a close friend. We sorted out a programme for our performance; it was quite a challenging one. It included two of my compositions, three of Dato’s and jazz standards by Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson and Herbie Hancock. After two days’ rehearsals we were ready. On 27th October, the first day of the festival, we went with the Georgians to a concert by Marcus Miller. I was impressed by the concert, especially by the young saxophonist who played in Marcus’ group.
This guy, called Alex Han, was simply perfect. I’d like to make special mention of the high level of organisation of the festival, and the holiday mood within the city and at the venues. Particularly impressive were the stage designs, with their visually effective photographs of the musicians. It was all very modern and ‘a la mode’. I know well the problems and responsibility associated with festivals of this size. I should, then, at this point note the work

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of Kakha Kandelaki. Despite all the difficulties, he has been organising jazz events in Tbilisi for so many years.

We were to perform on 29th October. After the sound check, any number of journalists came over to question me about the music I had heard, about our repertoire and my opinion of the festival organisation. The concert began in the evening. I have to say that our performance brought calls of ‘encore’. The audience applauded with some emotion and I received a uniquely positive energy from the auditorium. It is impossible to compare this with other feelings and this is the ultimate experience for a musician. In achieving such success, no small roles were played by pianist Dato Mazanashvili, Bass player Nodar Ekvtimishvili and drummer Gia Salagishvili.

Following the concert, the festival organisers, in thanking me for a successful performance, said that they still remembered the concerts

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given by Vagif Mustafazade in Tbilisi and they were pleased that jazz continued to be heard in Azerbaijan. Representatives of the media asked many questions and many offers were made, including offers to stay and work in Georgia.

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We celebrated our performance around an abundantly-laid Georgian table, together with the well-known Georgian vocal quartet, ‘Dielo’.

We drank a little ‘chacha’ with some of the Georgian intelligentsia and ate delicious Georgian ‘khingal’. The Georgians, ever faithful to their traditions, all sang together.

I returned to Baku with fine impressions, both of the festival and of our performance. I wish success to all those who organised the event, and to the whole of the Georgian people. I wish for even further development of jazz in Georgia!